Microsoft Buys LinkedIn, Slowing Multiple Competitors

Microsoft has tried its hand at enterprise communication and workflow offerings for quite some time with Yammer being its most valiant effort followed by the recent launch of Planner, but after four years of owning Yammer (via acquisition) the enterprise social network is far from a household name (like most B2B offerings); LinkedIn, however, most certainly is and Microsoft is its proud new owner.


In an all-cash transaction, Microsoft has announced it will acquire LinkedIn - the 12th most-visited site in the U.S. - for $26.2 billion likely slowing Slack, Salesforce and even Twitter as a result (more on those below).


While LinkedIn doesn't live in the same wheelhouse as Yammer or Planner currently (and competitor Slack), there is no limit to the cross-over that could occur; for instance, private team communication within LinkedIn, task assignments and completion and more.


CRM Impact


This can most notably be beneficial for sales teams that may have some of the most robust lead acquisition and nurturing tools available once Microsoft imagines how its Dynamic CRM will leverage LinkedIn to manage customer relationships and start new ones. With professionals already using LinkedIn as a publishing platform (both writing and promoting on it), enterprises could begin to use LinkedIn to personalize the content that is being seen by its current and prospective customers based on where they are in the sales funnel and alert sales teams of how engaged (or not engaged) people were with the content to indicate what action should be taken. Perhaps teams could also write in Word and publish straight to LinkedIn for certain customer segments, foregoing the need for a more traditional content management system (and the need for Microsoft to acquire one). What's more, LinkedIn also owns SlideShare, which could be improved with a more direct pathway from PowerPoint.


Social Change


This could all be bad news for Twitter, however, which has less-than-optimal engagement (44 percent of Twitter accounts have never sent a tweet) and whose future could have been in enterprise collaboration and now won't be able to compete in that space barring some unforeseen deal (it'd have to be huge) - maybe a Google, IBM, Apple or Oracle pickup (which could benefit its CRM).


These are, of course, generous projections, but the Microsoft-LinkedIn deal is a statement-making acquisition that cements Microsoft's vision of "empowering every person and organization on the planet" and one that trumps Salesforce's acquisition of cloud commerce platform Demandware both by sheer costs ($26.2 billion versus $2.8 billion) and possibilities.


It will be interesting to watch if/when Microsoft gates off LinkedIn in some way (e.g., algorithms, pay for play, restricted APIs) to competing customer relationship management endeavors. For now, however, LinkedIn will continue to be a standalone brand, which Ryan Donovan, VP of product development for Microsoft partner Sitecore says, " a step away from their traditional M&A playbook but a smart move consider the brand equity LinkedIn has with the business community." He expects LinkedIn to be incorporated into other elements of Microsoft fairly quickly.


Industry Perspective


Finally, to put this acquisition into perspective, let's take a look at some standout stats from Mergermarket:


  • The deal is the third highest valued deal targeting the U.S. tech sector on Mergermarket record (since 2001). This follows Hewlett-Packard's $33.8 billion spin-off of its enterprise group, and Singapore-based Avago Technology's $33.7 billion acquisition of Broadcom, both announced in 2015
  • The deal gives a much needed boost to the U.S. tech sector which has lacked momentum following the record-breaking value seen in 2015 - where 833 deals worth $254.6 billion overshadowed 2014's previous record value by 94.7 percent
  • Before this deal was announced, 306 deals worth $55.7 billion announced to-date lagged 48 percent behind the same period in 2015 (366 deals, $107.3 billion), with 60 fewer deals
  • Taking the deal into account, 307 deals worth $81.9 billion, although unable to reach 2015's high, now mark the second highest year-to-date value on Mergermarket record